Yesterday, I attended my favorite Sunday morning service - the effervescent and always engaging Church of Beethoven. I think of it as a church of art. It celebrates not only the richness of music and language, but honors in a sense the art of living itself. Waiting for that first cup of espresso or cappucino - each served with a graceful leaf design floating on the creamy surface - is in itself part of the rhythm and beauty of the morning. People arrive in good cheer, anticipating the events of the hour. Everyone is friendly, almost eager. It is evolving into a small community, where all are welcome and received with joy. People have the time to chat, to be interested - to loiter amid the spare tires and potted plants and relax for awhile .

This Sunday, the program opened with a complex and subtle violin solo played by Ikuko Kanda, a member of the NMSO. I was transfixed by the music her dancing fingers created on that small wooden instrument. At first it sounded like a swarm of bees leaving the hive - then moved on to all sorts of elegant and unanticipated flows and swoops of sound. She was joined later by Lynn DeVelder playing the harp - a gorgeous piece of sculpture in itself. Lynn's hands were like ballet dancers, moving over that waterfall of strings with such grace and confidence. It was just amazingly beautiful. Such a thing to hear, sitting in a disused Filling Station in Barelas! I thought of all the people asleep in their beds, hung over or bored, missing this, and felt sad for them.

Interspersed between the music, poet regulars Tony and Frank explored the lyrics of songs - treating them like the poetry they often are. Their joint reading of Cat Steven's "Father and Son" - that classic anguished ballad of separation and identity - felt so genuine that I wanted to comfort them afterwards....

These Sunday mornings have become my touchstone - a way to get back to what is beautiful and kind in this deteriorating world. After a long week of effort, perhaps frustration, perhaps accomplishment - after a week of continuing bad news in the world - I find renewal and rest in the company of strangers at the improbable, generous Church of Beethoven.

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Comment by chantal on June 16, 2008 at 10:51am
Ooh, I love the Church of Beethoven as well! Thanks for posting your story.

For any who haven't been, it's every Sunday at 10:30 (get there EARLY if you want a seat) in Barelas at the Filling Station. Cost is a suggested donation of $10-$20.

The Filling Station
1024 Fourth st SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102

And here's another take on the Church of Beethoven.

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